Friday, May 25, 2007

The Head or the heart?

We have a saying in Kerala: when the head is still there, the tail need not rule. The head is place highest on the human body. Every other organ – hands, heart, legs and genitals are below the head. Does this indicate a superiority of the head over the other organs?

Normally we have the higher authority seated at a higher level than his subordinates. If you follow any office seating hierarchy (take, a court for example).The judge is the supreme authority. He is seated at the highest level. The Indian parliament may be the only office where the ruling speaker is seated at a lower level. (Does this explain the unruly scenes that we have in parliaments?)

Apart from these considerations of higher placement, let us see what will happen if the other organs are allowed to indulge as they like, without giving due thought? Obviously, when a man has too many drinks, his intellect is warning him: do not drink. You have to drive. If he doesn’t listen and goes on drinking, he is exposed to a greater danger of a car crash. The reflexes will not be fast enough.

This applies to every other action. Our actions have to be guided by our intellect. This is particularly true so in interpersonal relations. We may have conflicts in our relations. If we react at the level of the heart, that is, just emotionally, we are likely to get caught up in a mess. It soon becomes a retaliatory game. A no-win situation. We need to stand apart, view the situation from an outsider’s perspective, suspending judgment or knee jerk reactions. Then we have more choices. This has to be patiently cultivated.

But sometimes, we do need to rely on the heart. It is to sense the intuition that we need in many situations. Falling in love, for instance. After knowing the person, for a long time. if we keep on analyzing him/her, we will ends up being frustrated, not being able to make a choice.

One is tempted to say it is not a matter of the head or the heart. It is a matter of functioning as a whole person. A balanced person, centered within. This comes about through relaxation and an acquired faith in oneself, in one’s own goodness. Previous articles have covered how we came to disbelieve our goodness.

We will soon discuss how Yoga explains the inter play of emotions and intellect.

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